339 philosophy of art

Fall 2007
Tuesdays and Thursdays 11 - 12:30
MATH 100

Instructor: Dominic McIver Lopes
Co-instrcutor: Josh Johnston
Lopes's Hours: Thursdays 3:30 to 4:30 pm in Buchanan B130
Johnston's Hours: TBA

This course is an introduction to the philosophy of art. It is designed both for philosophy students who wish to learn about the application of philosophical ideas and methods to the arts and also for students of the arts who wish to acquire a philosophical perspective on their subject. The readings are works of philosophy written during the past fifty years, with an emphasis on contemporary research. The topics covered this year are theories of art, ontology of art, and aesthetic evaluation. The final unit of the course will be a case study of computer art.

required texts

Peter Lamarque and Stein Haugom Olsen, eds. Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art (Oxford: Blackwell, 2004). [amazon.ca]

A photocopy package available from the instructor for $10.

Downloadable PDFs.

optional text

Berys Gaut and Dominic McIver Lopes, eds. Routledge Companion to Aesthetics, 2nd edition (London: Routledge, 2005). [amazon.ca]


1. Five pop quizzes testing comprehension of the material covered in the lectures and the readings. The quizzes are worth twenty percent of the final mark.

2. Midterm examination with short-answer and essay questions, worth forty percent of the course mark.

3. Term paper, not exceeding three thousand words in length, worth forty percent of the course mark.

essay instructions

Write an essay not excceding three thousand words either on one of the assigned articles by Dickie, Gaut, Levinson, Kivy, Sibley, Walton or Carroll, or on one chapter of Lopes. The essay must:
(1) describe the problem the article/chapter tries to solve,
(2) state the author's thesis,
(3) comprehensively but economically lay out the arguments for the thesis,
(4) briefly define any concepts crucial to those arguments, and
(5) either (a) develop an objection exposing a weakness in one of the author's arguments or (b) state a familiar objection to the author's argument and develop a reply to that objection so as to demonstrate the strength of the author's argument.


September 4 Introduction to the Course
  Theories of Art
September 6 Art and the Avant-Garde
Lecture by Lopes
September 11 The Institutional Theory
Lecture by Lopes [HANDOUT]
September 13 The Institutional Theory
5. Dickie, "The New Institutional Theory of Art"
Lecture by Lopes
September 18 Cluster Theory
Lecture by Lopes
September 20 Cluster Theory
Berys Gaut, "'Art' as a Cluster Concept" [DOWNLOAD]
Lecture by Lopes
  Ontology of Art
September 25 Contextualism
Lecture by Johnston
September 27 Contextualism
9. Levinson, "What a Musical Work Is"
Lecture by Johnston
October 2 Platonism
Lecture by Johnston
October 4 Platonism
10. Kivy, "Platonism in Music: A Kind of Defense"
Lecture by Johnston
  Art Evaluation
October 9 Aesthetic Concepts and Taste
Lecture by Johnston
October 11 Aesthetic Concepts and Taste
12. Sibley, "Aesthetic Concepts"
Debate: Johnston and Lopes [HANDOUT]
October 16 Contextualism
Lecture by Lopes
October 18 Contextualism
13. Walton, "Categories of Art"
Debate: Johnston and Lopes
October 23 Film Evaluation
Noël Carroll, "Introducng Film Evaluation" [DOWNLOAD]
Lecture by Lopes
October 25 Midterm Exam
  Computer Art
October 30 Computer Art: Introduction
Lopes, Live Wires, ch. 1
Introduced by Lopes
November 1 Computer Art: Introduction
Roundtable led by Johnston
November 6 Computer Art: Definition
Lopes, Live Wires, ch. 2
Introduced by Lopes
November 8 Computer Art: Definition
Roundtable led by Johnston
November 13 Computer Art: Ontology
Lopes, Live Wires, ch. 3
Introduced by Lopes
November 15 Computer Art: Ontology
Roundtable led by Johnston
Frigidaire Poetry Kit Art Gallery
November 20 Computer Art: Roles
Lopes, Live Wires, ch. 4
Introduced by Lopes
November 22 Computer Art: Roles
Roundtable led by Johnston
November 27 Computer Art: Value
Lopes, Live Wires, ch. 5
Introduced by Lopes
November 29 Computer Art: Value
Roundtable led by Johnston
December 7 Term Paper Due (deliver to BUCH B130 by 4:30 pm)


This syllabus may be amended by the instructor at any time.